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News posted on Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Twister tears through Hunter Valley vineyard
A twister has badly damaged vines and an equipment shed at a vineyard in the Hunter Valley. Footage of the twister at Keith Tulloch Wines in Pokolbin shows wind blasting through parts of the property on Sunday afternoon. No one was injured, although about 100 vines and an equipment shed were destroyed. Keith Tulloch Wine spokesman Alisdair Tulloch praised cellar door staff, who he said first realised something was headed their way when they were pelted with fruit on the second floor of the winery. "They looked up and they saw a spiral vortex, which then started to touch down into the vineyard on the other side of the winery," he said.

Large vineyards placed on subdued market
A real estate company expects the sale of four large South Australian vineyards to draw interest from major grape growing and winemaking companies. Two Riverland properties, located near Kingston-on-Murray and Loxton, and two vineyards at Mundulla, on the Limestone coast, together represent around 900 hectares of land. Horticultural company Seven Fields currently manages the properties on behalf of investors. Vineyards of this scale are considered large, and properties of this size have not been placed on the market recently. Colliers International director of agribusiness Tim Altschwager said they were likely to draw domestic interest.

Discount retailers shaking up wine market
Discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl have brought a fresh approach to wine retailing in the UK that is making their larger competitors take notice, according to a visiting wine judge. Jane Parkinson, an award-winning journalist and presenter from the UK, was the international judge at the Sydney Royal Wine Show this month. She told guests at Friday’s WCA Trophy Winners Lunch that the UK wine retail market had long been dominated by the big four retailers; Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsburys. But she said the UK market had reached “an interesting turning point” with discount retailers Aldi and Lidl continuing their rampant growth. In Australia, Aldi now has about 350 stores.

Rob Hirst awarded legend status
Rob Hirst, Fine Wine Partners chairman, has been announced as 2015 NSW ‘Legend of the Vine’ at a lunch hosted by Wine Communicators of Australia (WCA), on Friday. Hirst received the award in front of an audience of 350 wine industry peers at the lunch, held to honour the Sydney Royal Wine Show trophy winners. The WCA Legend of the Vine award recognises a member of the wine industry who has made an outstanding and lasting contribution to the wine business and industry at large, as well as displaying a strong affinity for the objectives of WCA.

Industry stalwart Greg Pullen to retire
Greg Pullen, the general manager of fine wine merchants Samuel Smith & Son in NSW, will retire on 30 June, following almost 30 years of service to the family-owned company. A key player within the fine wine distribution industry, Pullen joined Samuel Smith & Son's Victorian team in December 1986 as sales manager, before being promoted to Victorian state manager in 1988. He moved to Sydney to take on the state manager role there in 1992 and in 1998 was tasked with overseeing the Samuel Smith & Son business at a national level.

Yealands relaunches Hawke’s Bay Crossroads with Enotria
Yealands Wine Group is moving is its Hawke’s Bay Crossroads wines to Enotria from Mentzendorff to streamline UK distribution. The full range of Crossroads wines, including the Milestone Series and Winemaker’s collection will be available from March 1 from Enotria. Miles Dinnen has been winemaker at Crossroads Winery for over 10 years, and part of the Yealands team, headed by Tamra Kelly-Washington since 2011 when Crossroads was bought by Peter Yealands, known best for his sustainable winery Yealands Estate in Marlborough Awatere Valley.

Drought adds urgency to irrigation and storage plans
Drought throughout much of the South Island and dry conditions in parts of the North look set to add urgency to water storage and irrigation schemes that are either underway or on the drawing board. The declaration by the Government that parts of the South Island have been affected by medium-scale adverse events has highlighted what a nor'wester can do, now that all the "easy" water has gone, says Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Andrew Curtis. ANZ estimates the current dry spell will shave at least 0.5 per cent off GDP growth.

UK wine industry backs calls for alcohol duty cut
The UK’s growing wine industry has called for the Chancellor to cut the high rate of alcohol duty rate by two per cent in the upcoming Budget. The UK is the sixth largest wine market globally and worth £17.3 billion (A$34.2bn) to the British economy, according to research by EY, with wine now the UK’s most popular alcoholic drink. Smaller producers, distributors and retailers say cutting the duty would stimulate the economy to the tune of £1bn as well as reducing the deficit. English wine is gaining global recognition for its top quality, but producers argue that the current tax system makes it unable to compete fairly with its European contemporaries.

French wine exports held back by low stocks
For the fourth consecutive year, French exports of wines and spirits exceeded €10 billion in 2014, but the lack of availability due to reduced harvests has left concerned producers facing "very strong" international competition. France's Federation of Exporters of Wines and Spirits (FEVS) reported that 2014 was the "third-best historical performance", with sales of €10.8bn (A$15.8bn) – or the equivalent of the sales of 140 Airbus passenger airplanes – but turnover fell by 2.8 per cent, reflecting a decline in both volume and value of sales.

1,500 year-old grape seeds discovered
For the first time, grape seeds from the Byzantine era have been found. These grapes were used to produce “the Wine of the Negev” - one of the finest and most renowned wines in the whole of the Byzantine Empire. The charred seeds, over 1,500 years-old, were found at the Halutza excavation site in the Negev during a joint dig by the University of Haifa and the Israel Antiquities Authority. “The vines growing in the Negev today are European varieties, whereas the Negev vine was lost to the world. Our next job is to recreate the ancient wine, and perhaps in that way we will be able to reproduce its taste and understand what made the Negev wine so fine.”

Treasury Americas says renewed focus on $10-$20 segment is paying dividends
Among Treasury Wine Estates’ key initiatives in the U.S. market in recent months has been a renewed emphasis on the $10-$20 price area, a strategy that is now yielding growth on several of its main brands, the company tells SND. “We’ve been relentless about driving focus across the business—particularly on our long-term strategy to grow in $10-plus,” says Sandra LeDrew, Treasury’s chief commercial officer for the Americas. “Our marketing investments have increased, our sales teams are focused, and our distributors are engaged on driving this segment.”

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